Terrified UN soldiers pull out of Rwanda

Thursday 21 April 1994 00:02 BST

KIGALI (Reuter) - Terrified United Nations soldiers scrambled on board planes evacuating people from Kigali yesterday as the UN peace-keeping mission in Rwanda neared collapse amid bloody chaos.

More than 250 Bangladeshi peace-keepers squashed into planes loaded with dozens of UN military observers and refugees. UN officers said they had been told the rest of the 2,500-strong force would soon quit the country, torn apart by civil war and tribal blood-letting. They said the decision had been triggered by the government forces' refusal to hand the airport over to UN control. Some 250 UN troops would stay in a final attempt to broker an end to two weeks of mayhem.

'If they (the warring parties) do not reach an agreement on a ceasefire it must be very clear we shall not stay here,' the UN special envoy to Rwanda, Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, said on Tuesday. Mr Booh-Booh declined to say what recommendations he had made to the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, on the future of the UN mission in Rwanda.

Asked whether the UN was prepared to abandon Rwanda, gripped by an orgy of ethnic killings since President Juvenal Habyarimana died in a plane crash on 6 April, Mr Booh-Booh said: 'We came to assist Rwanda, but we cannot impose any solution on the Rwandan people, who have to help us to help them.'

In New York, Human Rights Watch, in a letter to the UN Security Council, said on Tuesday that around 100,000 people may have been killed in Rwanda over the past two weeks.

The organisation said the campaign of killing was planned weeks before Habyarimana's death 'when army officers trained, armed and organised some 1,700 young men into a militia affiliated with the president's political party'.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in